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OBLIVION (kind of) and the History of Rock and Roll

August 19, 2013

Oblivion comes courtesy writer/director Joseph Kosinski. Kosinski has adapted his own graphic novel for Oblivion and it marks his sophomore directorial effort, after 2010’s TRON: Legacy. As trailers have made abundantly clear, Oblivion is also produced by those who brought us Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). As you surely know, that film achieved fame for being the first film ever reviewed on my website.

oblivion poster

Fortunately for Oblivion, it is a better movie than both those of its’ pedigree. That said, Oblivion presents plenty of frustrations all its’ own. The presentation of the first act felt out of touch and disjointed. The first act just scream’s I Am Legend (2007), and yet instead of playing on the eerie emptiness of the post-nuclear-war Earth, we get a bombastic musical score that, while rousing, just doesn’t jive with what you’re seeing.

If movies were record producer-themed Halloween party, Oblivion went with Phil Spector when it clearly should have been gone Rick Rubin. Phil Spector, a record producer known for his signature Wall-of-Sound approach, tended to make fuller-sounding records through the use of additional sound elements. Rubin, on the other hand, is known for producing records stripped to the bare minimum of necessary sound elements. Both styles have value, but both also have their place. Think of how “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes was a huge hit for Team Wall-of-Sound, and Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” was perfectly minimalist. Oblivion is an example of picking the wrong style and missing the chance to establish a coherent feeling.

The result of this misstep is a soulless first act. What follows, is better and delivered with more panache (even if the panache is mostly borrowed from other films). Oblivion doesn’t do much to separate itself from all of the other post-apocalyptic (simply typing those words makes me shudder) genre movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Independence Day, The Matrix, not to mention the movies I named earlier in this review and probably dozen or so more, are all present in Oblivion. Also, did anyone else see the bit taken right from The English Patient? How far and wide must one mine for obscure movie bits to shoehorn into science fiction movies these days?


While I’m at it, can we possibly just put an end to the post-apocalyptic genre altogether? An all-too large percentage of science fiction stories use this device and it’s become a steaming hot mess of cliché. I vote that this subgenre remain shelved until someone comes along with an idea that will shake things up and show us something we haven’t seen 100 times before. Such movies that have taken imaginative approaches to the subject matter in the past include Mad Max, Brazil and Delicatessen (being a degenerative movie collector, all I ever need do to find examples is gaze upon my own shelf).

If it isn’t already obvious, I love this genre. Sometimes movies like Oblivion, entertaining as they are, cause me to worry about its’ future. Another film that has made me feel this way is Eagle Eye (2008). It’s a pretty ridiculous story that owes any decent elements it may possess to better movies. Oblivion is better because the story is more interesting and somewhat less traveled. It just has the same trouble with borrowing inspiration in generally uninspiring ways.

Ranting aside, I can give Oblivion a lukewarm recommendation. Unfortunately at this point, the best way of seeing this movie (IMAX) is no longer available. However, it’s an action movie that manages to be pretty exciting while resting comfortably on a few clichés. The ending had me on the edge of my seat as I waited to see which way it would go. Would it be the unexpectedly careless ending or simply the unsurprising one? I report that I was pleasantly unsurprised. Did I mention Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman are in this movie?

From → Essay, Film Reviews

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